Gränser i livet - gränser i landskapet : Generationsrelationer och rituella praktiker i södermanländska bronsålderslandskap
Sammanfattning: This thesis deals with issues relating to the cosmological dimensions of landscapes, the cultural construction of age and the long-term changes in passage rituals and mortuary practices in the Bronze Age societies of Södermanland in East Central Sweden. A gender perspective forms the underlying theoretical framework, while the study as a whole is particularly interested in power relations between generations as an impetus for societal change. Burials from cairns and cemeteries, as well as heaps of fire-cracked stones, rock-carvings and ritual hoards from two Bronze Age Landscapes in Södermanland are used as examples and to illustrate the interpretations presented in this study.It is proposed that perceptions of landscapes and cosmology were created by placing cairns and stone settings at liminal places or boundaries in the landscape, while heaps of fire-cracked stones were situated at focal points. Places where rock-carvings are found, nearby rapids or on islands along river courses, are interpreted as birth-places, and stem from origin myths about the birth of the first humans at these sites. It is proposed that birth, life and death as cosmological principles may be perceived in the landscape and are related to different kinds of waters. In addition, it is suggested that the cultural construction of age is expressed in spatial terms where adults - both men and women - with special abilities and esoteric knowledge related to passage rituals, were buried in cairns. Infants, whose relationship with these adults was special, were instead buried in the heaps of fire-cracked stones. It is also considered that, among other things, the absence of swords in burials implies that the societies of East Central Sweden probably had a social organization that was distinct from the societies of southern Scandinavia. Regarding long-term changes in ritual practices it is suggested that ritual tools used in mortuary practices change from flint daggers in the Late Neolithic, to razors and tweezers during the Bronze Age. Further changes occurred in the Late Bronze Age, when pins were introduced into the ritual practices. Regarding age and gender, osteological estimates show that both adult men and women participated in passage rituals. With the transition to pins we also see changes in who dealt with passage rituals and it is rather young women who were responsible for this sphere in the later period. As children also become visible - both in burials and at rock-carving sites – during the Late Bronze Age, this is interpreted as signalling shifts in power relations between genders and generations in favour of women and younger people.
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